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November 5, 2010

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Trade body slams criteria for street-scaffolding licences

New research has found that local authorities are issuing pavement licences for scaffolding without ensuring that applicants meet legal requirements.

The National Access and Scaffolding Confederations (NASC) conducted a survey among local authorities across the UK to ascertain with which criteria scaffold companies are expected to comply in order to be granted a licence to erect scaffolding on a pavement, or street.

The results revealed that almost every authority adopted different criteria, with some requiring nothing more than evidence that the company held adequate insurance. Many authorities didn’t require companies to demonstrate competence in scaffold construction, or ask if measures were in place to protect the public during erection, or dismantling of structures.

The survey identified that almost all of the criteria received from authorities across the country failed to meet legal requirements under the HSWA 1974, the Work at Height regulations 2005, and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

NASC president Bob Whincap said: “It is not unusual to hear of scaffold collapses on our public highways. Any member of the public is potentially at risk every time they step on to a pavement where a scaffold is built.”

In response to the findings, the NASC joined forces with the HSE, Highways Authority, Joint Authorities Group UK, and the National Traffic Managers Forum to produce an 11-page guidance document, which lists criteria that a scaffold contractor must meet before a licence can be granted. The criteria include:

  • Scaffold design;
  • Scaffolder competence;
  • Double boarding with membranes on pedestrian gantries;
  • Scaffold protection fans;
  • Protection for public and vehicles; and
  • Improved signage;

The new criteria have been welcomed by a number of authorities, who openly recognise that the standard of scaffolding needs to be improved. Transport for London’s business and quality manager, Raymond Pierson, said “TfL will be adopting the NASC’s full guidelines, and applauds its ‘fight’ for a universal improvement into the tightening of conditions for scaffolding contractors.”

The criteria document can be viewed on the NASC’s website at


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